GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (07/11/18) - An effort aimed at getting more people to report crimes in Genesee County is working.
Wednesday, Crime Stoppers announced a 200 percent increase in tips over the past year.
"I just think about him all the time and I really miss him, " said grieving mother Maria Garza.
The pain of losing her eldest son, Martin, two years ago is still evident in her voice as she speaks of him. The heartbreak is compounded by the fact that the person who took her son's life remains unknown.
"I want to know what happened," Garza said.
Hers are the types of cases investigators hope they can solve with the public's help.
"I think we all felt her heartbreak when she spoke, so I'm urging anyone out there, anyone that's listening, if you have any information at all about the death of her son Martin, we're asking you to come forward. I'm appealing to you," said Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.
More and more, people have been responding to these pleas thanks in part to a grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation to help spread the word about unsolved crimes.
"We had some really good marketing campaigns going on and with that we went from 29 tips the year previous up to 89 tips," said Crime Stoppers of Flint and Genesee County Executive Director Julie Lopez.
Seven tips directly resulted in arrests.
"It was for drugs, felony warrants, carrying concealed weapons, misdemeanor warrants, parole violations, armed robbery drugs, weapons collected," Lopez said.
The campaign targeted the northeast side of Flint with a message to residents, "Your Voice Matters." Callers can still remain anonymous.
"This is a perfect tool that every citizen should take very seriously, because the crime that is happening in Flint," said Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson. "We are not rocket scientists. It has to be tips, it has to people calling in, saying such and such did it, I saw it or whatever they want to tell us. Every little bit of information helps."
The Ruth Mott Foundation grant will now be renewed for a second year, allowing Crime Stoppers to build on the success they've had with the campaign.